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This is the official twitter account of Ukraine responding to Russia with an appropriate Simpsons gif.

You know, humans turned into Star Trek's Tamarians so gradually, I didn't even notice.

And yes, I'm aware of the irony of misquoting the Simpsons to decry the overuse of-

D'oh!

Elpis

Nov. 11th, 2016 06:57 pm
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We're going to be debating this election for a long time. We're going to be living with its consequences even longer. It was incredibly close – a few percentage points in a handful of states, and we'd be talking about the Clinton Landslide, and most of the world would be celebrating this public repudiation of Trump and his vile brand of bigotry and ignorance.

Let's not forget that as we struggle through these dark times. We're not done for. There is no permanent Republican majority. There are still enough voices of sanity to swing the pendulum back and salvage what remains.

And for those of us outside America particularly, we need to remember this. The last few days, I know I've had to remind myself not to judge all Americans for the actions of a few. Trump did not win with a majority; he did not even achieve a plurality of voters. The silent majority remained silent – and, we can only hope, is and will be horrified by what has been unleashed and will, in time, stand against it.

Let's not be too optimistic; the tide of fascism, of populist nationalism, the politics of hate – they're all gaining in strength. In America, in Britain, in the Philippines, across Europe. But they remain a minority, and one that can still be fought.

And let us not forget that this was not an election won cleanly. This was an election tainted by Russian propaganda, by Wikileaks' idiotic grudges, and in the end, almost certainly swung by a partisan hack who used his position to add weight to an illusory scandal. We should not accept the hatred Trump spews under any circumstances, but under these, for him to claim any sort of mandate is farcical. Do not let anyone forget this.

For those of you in the United States. You are not broken. You are not defeated. You have a party that will – and must – oppose Trump and his agenda. You have the numbers to ensure they will. The world still hears your voice. Do not let yourselves be silenced. Do not let them advance without a struggle. If the arc of the universe no longer bends towards justice, then you must force it back towards it.

Maybe I'm a fool to still have hope. Maybe.

But sometimes that's all we have.

And all we need.

Maybe

Nov. 10th, 2016 12:17 pm
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Maybe we were wrong.

Maybe it was always a sham. Debates and policies, respect and civility, truth and reason. Maybe none of that ever mattered. Maybe anyone could have done what he did, they just always thought they needed the rest.

Maybe there was never any more to leadership than being the loudest voice in the room.

Maybe we just wanted to believe that somehow naked demagoguery didn't work any more, that we'd become better than that.

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Maybe we should have remembered that progress was just a story we told ourselves to bring order to chaotic events.

Maybe we were foolish.

Maybe we'll get a second chance.

Maybe.
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has weighed into the debate on Scottish independence by saying those advocating for a break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice or freedom...

…“I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, not the friends of freedom, and that the countries that would cheer at the prospect of the break-up with the United Kingdom are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

- Advocates of Scottish independence not friends of freedom and justice: Tony Abbott, The Age
 
 
 
Damn it, he saw right through me! Alright, I admit it – my vague support for a peaceful secessionist movement and its efforts to achieve its goals through democratic means was, in fact, entirely based in my undying hatred for freedom and justice, and my desire to usher in a nightmarish future where the island of Great Britain is home to two stable, democratic, largely English-speaking first-world countries instead of just one.

Still, I think it’s going too far to claim all supporters of Scottish independence are driven by such things – surely some are honest men and women, merely pawns of the sinister Gaelic cabal? Perhaps – just perhaps – Mr. Abbot doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about?
 
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“Beginning in about 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a ­custom-made Osama bin Laden ­action figure, according to people familiar with the project. The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.”
 - CIA hatched plan to make demon toy to counter Osama bin Laden's influence, The Washington Post
 
You know, I think a lot of us were worried that after the end of the Cold War, the CIA would lose its reputation for complete insanity. It seemed for a while there was no place in the new world order for such cunning plans as securing American power by making Fidel Castro's beard fall out. It's good to know the War on Terror gave them a new opportunity to play to their strengths, as well as finally answering the question: What would Darth Maul look like with a beard?
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There are two things I remember about the lead up to the Iraq War. The first was how the justification seemed to change every week. It was about terrorism. It was about weapons of mass destruction. It was about democracy. It was about this, it was about that. A new rationale would come out, would be rejected, and it would be replaced by another just as flimsy. “Yellowcake Uranium from Africa” and the “forty-five minutes” claims were punch lines almost immediately, yet none of this seemed to stop the drumbeat to war. There was no sincerity about the process; nobody believed Bush or anyone on his team really believed any of this, all that mattered was that they could find some excuse, any excuse, that could withstand scrutiny long enough for the war to start.

The second thing was the protests. They were everywhere, but everyone knew they were futile. It just seemed like part of the ritual of the war, part of the performance that had to be held before the war could start, the illusion of dissent and debate. I think to a lot of people, the start of the war itself was almost a relief; at least now discussion of the war could be based in something real, something that was really happening, rather than the bizarre performance that preceded it.

Forget September 11. This was the formative political event for a lot of people today; the realisation that the powerful would do what they liked regardless of the consequences, regardless of the protests. That the idea of liberal democracy has become something else, some strange mockery of its values, that we’ve reached the point where it’s no longer necessary to quash dissent – tolerate it long enough, maintain the pretence of discussion, and then proceed with whatever you wanted in the first place.

I don’t know how we can break out of that process again, or if it’s even possible any more to halt tragedies like Iraq when the powerful have set their minds to it...
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Well, it’s new pope time, and that means it’s time to pick a new papal name! Unfortunately, in recent centuries, the list of names chosen has become rather staid and boring, with Pius after Pius broken only by the occasional Paul or Leo. Benedict was a good change, but still not going far enough – looking back only a mere hundred years. For the next pope, might I suggest looking a lot further back, and picking one of the underused names that haven’t seen much attention in the last millennia? So many to choose from!

He could be any of these if he wanted:

Sixtus VI
Lando II
Cletus II
Dionysius II
Hilarius II

Should none of these catch the pope’s fancy, might I suggest he at least pick John XX, and finally fill the gap created by a nine hundred year old numbering error?
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His Royal Highness, Prince Roy I of Sealand, has passed away, aged 91, after a 46 year reign. We can only hope that his heir, Prince Michael I, will be able to continue his father's work and maintain the independence of the Principality...
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So. The world-wide protests against the film The Innocence of Muslims has reached Australia, with violent protests in Sydney this weekend. Don’t want to weigh into that issue, but I do want to comment on one thing that’s come up during reporting of the story.

Flags and symbols... )

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We all like the narrative of the popular uprising toppling the evil dictator; dealing with the political vacuum that results is a far less popular theme. Case in point, Egypt’s elections. Personally, I’m less concerned with who ends up winning than whether the military ever plans on giving any meaningful power to the elected government. Still, it is a little disheartening to see the Egyptian revolution end in a contest between an old regime loyalist and a religious hardliner.

One thing that has struck me is the reason it’s come down to these two choices – the lack of unity among the liberal/secular/revolutionary block, who failed to support a single candidate for president and whose votes ended up divided between half a dozen candidates. It occurred to me that this wouldn’t have happened in Australia – our instant run-off system eliminates candidates one by one, rather than eliminating everyone but the top two. In an Australian system, the smaller parties would have been able to form alliances among themselves, and could well have ended up with enough combined support for one of their candidates to take a majority of the vote. Even if the candidates couldn’t have come to an agreement, the voters still would be more likely to direct preferences towards other liberal candidates rather than towards the hardliners and conservative candidates.

To my knowledge, instant run-off voting is only used at a national level in Australia and New Guinea. I can understand it not being a perfect choice for new democracies. It is more complicated – Australian elections have a much higher than normal rate of invalid ballots being cast – and the added complexity of interpreting the ballots could be a problem in close elections or cases of electoral fraud. Still, it does solve some of the problems of elections with large numbers of candidates, and would eliminate problems such as Egypt, where large but poorly organised factions can feel excluded entirely from the final choice. It’s a shame the system hasn’t caught on more.
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I have to wonder what the Queen really thinks of this diamond jubilee nonsense. Isn’t it basically “Hey, sixty years ago today, your dad died! WOO PARTY!!!!”
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So many far-right parties these days have such bland and forgettable names - the National Front, the People's Alliance, the Popular Party, things like that. Names that sound like they could come from anywhere on the political spectrum.

I'm glad to see Greece's Fascists bucking that trend. 'Golden Dawn' is a name that you just know when you hear it is related to some sort of extremist ideology. That, or some sort of religious cult in a bad fantasy novel.

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Asked whether he considers himself a Zionist, he answered: "I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a state ... Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century…”
-
Gingrich calls Palestinians ‘invented’ people, al-Jazeera News
 
 
 
In the wake of Newt Gingrich’s discovery that territories formerly part of the Ottoman Empire cannot claim statehood, governments from Hungary to Kuwait are struggling to deal with the revelation that their national identities are a fraud.

“I thought we were a real country, with a history that long predates formal independence in 1912,” The Albanian president said, shortly before handing his country over to the great-grandson of the last Ottoman Sultan, “But Mr. Gingrich is right – we were part of the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century, obviously we are an invented people.”

In Turkey, there is uncertainty about what the revival of the Ottoman Empire will mean for the region. After almost a century of staunch republicanism, few are happy to see the monarchy return, but many feel they have no choice. “Although Turks were the dominant culture within the Ottoman Empire, it was not thought of as a Turkish nation.” One government spokesman explained. “Turkey as a nation was only founded by Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s; we are clearly an illegitimate state.”

In Libya, the Transitional Government is struggling to maintain their recently-won freedom with the argument that Tripoli was historically more of a ‘client state’ than a directly administered possession of the Ottoman Sultans, and Egypt is expected to make similar attempts to maintain its independence.

But not everyone objects to the restoration of Ottoman rule. In Cyprus, many are celebrating the end of the island’s division as both Greek and Turkish Cypriots abandon their false identities to join together as subjects of the Sultan. Meanwhile, in revolt-plagued Syria, President Bashar al-Assad seemed almost relieved to turn his country over to the new Ottoman sultan, and one spokesman for the former regime is now arguing the former President should be exempt from any prosecution for crimes committed by the Syrian government, as, under the Gingrich doctrine, the Republic of Syria never existed in the first place.

In Europe, meanwhile, markets are reeling at the discovery that debt-laden Greece never existed in the first place. “In hindsight, looking at the level of corruption in Greece, we should have guessed the entire state was an elaborate hoax,” One EU official was heard to comment. “It’s a pity Italy and Spain were never part of the Ottoman Empire.”

Similarly, NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia and Kosovo are struggling to deal with the radical shift in cultural identities in the region, as millions of Serbs, Bosnians and Croatians abandoned their post-Ottoman nationalities. “At first, it looked like the ethnic conflict here was finally over,” One American soldier reported. “But now it looks like about half the population are now pledging allegiance to the Habsburg monarchy instead. I don’t think things are going to calm down here any time soon.”

Meanwhile, the man at the centre of this radical political shift, Newt Gingrich, has come under fire from his own party, after it was realised the Gingrich doctrine had resulted in the erasure of Israel as a state as well as Palestine. One Republican, speaking anonymously, went further, saying that “Mr. Gingrich’s comments don’t even make sense. So what if Palestine didn’t exist prior to the twentieth century. There wasn’t a United States prior to the eighteenth century; it was part of the British empire and considered part of the British community – Oh, crap.”
4thofeleven: (Default)


(South African Nando's advertisment, recently pulled after complaints from the Zimbabwean government...)
4thofeleven: (Default)
Today, in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi met his end in what, one can hope, is the end of a brutal dictatorship and the beginning of a free, open and democratic society.

Today, in Melbourne, riot police used force to shut down peaceful protests against the unelected elite, in preparation for the arrival of the monarch.
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Bringing the war within measurable distance of its end victory -- greatest victory in human history -- victory, victory, victory!


('Dude, are you being sarcastic?'
'I don't even know any more.')


4thofeleven: (Default)
It’s always strange to be reminded that, when it comes down to it, I am an optimist at heart.

I’ve seen a lot of cynical commentary about the military action in Libya, and to a degree, I sympathise, and understand people’s scepticism about western intervention in yet another Arab country. But this isn’t Iraq 2003; this is, I think, one of the rare situations where military involvement can be justified on humanitarian grounds. The Libyan rebel groups have been requesting international support and if anything’s to be done, it needs to be now… This isn't about the United States and its poor record, and honestly, seeing everything through an anti-American lens is just as much national chauvinism as pro-American jingoism.

If anything, I’m glad that Bush’s adventures haven’t permanently tarnished the idea of this sort of intervention when necessary.

Unfortunately, it seems events aren’t going to turn out so positively in Bahrain – who’d have thought in the twenty-first century, we’d still have absolute monarchies banding together to crush democratic movements in their region?
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Is it just me, or has Libya been bizarrely quiet? Seems every Arab country has had at least some organized protests, but I haven't seen a single mention of similar discontent in the one country that borders both Tunisia and Egypt...
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Can I just say how glad I am to have al-Jazeera's coverage of the Egyptian Revolution*? Western media's coverage of the situation is abysmal.

Which, I guess, matches Western government's reactions to the situation, so there's symmetry, at least.


* I think, win or lose, at this point, it's moved into revolution territory, yes?

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